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My Inaugural (Cheese) Ball

Like a lot of folks, I'll be catching some of the inauguration festivities tomorrow — all from the comfort of the cozy indoors, thankfully. I shudder to think of all those chilly folks out there on the frigid capital mall...

My coworkers and I are having a little soiree over lunchtime to munch on snacks while we view the swearing in and the inaugural address.

Our first idea for a food theme was red, white and blue foods. But unless you want to throw around a bunch of blue food coloring, there's not a lot of blue food out there.

I've come up with... bluefin tuna (which isn't blue at all), bluefish (which is sorta blue), blue corn chips, blue potatoes (which are often a bit purple) and blueberries.

Anyway, our second thought for a food theme was simply snacks, because that's really what you're looking for when you watch TV anyway.

American Flag

But lo! Inspiration struck: There was one other "blue" food I forgot. Blue cheese! Yes, folks... it's time to make cheese balls.

Now, quite honestly, I'd never made cheese balls before, so these Inaugural Balls really are my inauguration into the world of cheese shapes.

But now that I've made them, I do understand why they're party food classics. Cheese balls are easy to make, they're not terribly expensive, they're endlessly versatile, they're quite popular and best of all... they can be made in advance.

Behold...
Inaugural Red, White & Blue Cheese Balls!

The Red Cheese Ball
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp roasted red pepper
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp onion, finely chopped
1 tsp sweet paprika
To roll: 3/4 cup crumbled bacon (cooked, obviously)

The White Cheese Ball
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp celery or water chestnuts, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp white pepper

The Blue Cheese Ball
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbsp onion, finely chopped
3 drops hot pepper sauce
1 pinch cayenne pepper
To roll: 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Directions for assembling all three cheese balls:

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the other cheese.
2. Blend in all remaining ingredients for the cheese ball (except the chopped nuts or crumbled bacon for rolling) and chill the mixture for 3 to 4 hours or until firm.
3. Roll the chilled cheese blend into a ball, and roll to coat in the chopped nuts or bacon pieces (if necessary).
4. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate.
5. At service time, place the ball(s) on a plate and serve with alongside crackers, baguette slices and/or celery or carrot sticks. The blue cheese ball is also nice with dried fruit and fresh grapes.

While 'tis true that my blue cheese ball isn't really blue as in Smurf-blue or bluejay-blue, it's also true that every one of these cheese balls is true-blue delicious. So there.

Now, if you're going this route, really show off your American pride and use all-American cheeses in your cheese balls. Maytag Blue is one of my favorite examples of the blue family, there's tons of great American goat cheeses and all kinds of domestic cheddars out there (Wisconsin! Vermont! New York!) to tickle your tastebuds.

Happy Inauguration Day to everyone!
Miss Ginsu

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1.19.2009

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